Westfield, MA (WSHM) — The 104th Fighter Wing identified in a news release Friday the pilot of the F-15C Eagle fighter jet who was killed in a crash in Deerfield, VA, after departing from Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield on Wednesday.
Officials said that Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr., of Longmeadow, lost his life in the crash. Fontenot graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1996 and was a decorated combat veteran, according to 104th Fighter Wing Lt. Anthony Mutti.
"On behalf of the family of our fallen pilot and with a sense of profound sadness, I am sad to share that Lt. Col. Morris 'Moose' Fontenot Jr., was killed tragically in Wednesday's F-15 crash," said Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing commander. "We all continue to keep the Fontenot family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time."
Fontenot served with the 104th Fighter Wing as the full-time wing inspector general. He was responsible for the implementation of the Air Force Inspection System and as an F-15 instructor pilot, Mutti said.
Fontenot had more than 2,300 flight hours and was a Weapons School graduate with more than 17 years experience flying F-15s, Mutti said.
Mutti said Fontenot served as a squadron commander at multiple international and domestic locations. Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February 2014 following active duty assignments in Washington, DC, Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous deployments to the Middle East.
The veteran earned the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Combat Readiness Medal among others, Mutti said.
Officials confirmed Thursday night that the pilot had been killed, but his name was initially withheld pending notification of family members.
In a press conference Thursday night, Col. James Keefe, Commander, 104th Fighter Wing, said the pilot received fatal injuries when the F-15C he was manning crashed. Keefe said Barnes ANG was notified at about 5 p.m. Thursday and that the remains of the pilot were discovered at the crash site.
It was first believed the pilot ejected from the jet prior to impact, but officials confirmed with CBS 3 Thursday he was not able to eject.